It is so amazing how organizations are popping up all over the world helping us join forces to tackle mental health diseases. I was privileged enough to speak in Athens, Greece a few years ago about iFred’s rebranding depression work, and learned from countries around the world just how important it is we work together to solve our greatest challenges.
I’ve just recently been asked to join their advisory board, and continue to be amazed and impressed by the work of all throughout the world.
It was celebrated across the U.S. when we were able to get mental health parity law passed. I don’t by any means intend to minimize this work – but do we realize that what we accomplished was to treat the brain in a similar fashion to the heart, liver, and intestines? Should we really have to fight that hard for that? Those that were involved in the legislation understand the intense work, dedication, and challenge this simple piece of legislation involved – and unfortunately the rest of the world is so far behind us in many different ways.
Recently I told someone I thought they could benefit from therapy, because they were having a series of issues in their life. I was surprised when I heard the response ‘But I don’t have a mental illness.’ It shouldn’t surprise me, as a big part of my life’s work is rebranding depression and the associated stigma, but still for some reason the comment left me with my jaw to the floor and raised the question: Do people really think you have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to benefit from therapy?
I was pondering what to say back when I read an excerpt from “A Practical Guide to Meditation and Prayer” by J. Douglas Bottorff. It is literally the most brilliant advice I have read in quite some time that helps articulate why anyone can benefit from therapy. Do me a favor; read it a few times, and just sit with it for a bit and let me know how it resonates.
Readers respond quite frequently to my blogs: ‘if only I could convince my 10 year old to do meditate.’ It may be majorly challenging to get children to practice, but if we can get them to sit for hours in front of video games, brush their teeth regularly, or study for exams, I do believe it’s possible.
There are three things a parent must first be willing to give in order to start on this journey:
I’ve been working through Jack Kornfield’s series; “The Inner Art of Meditation’, and I have to say I am incredibly impressed with his instruction and ability to ground us in our practice. I never thought of myself as particularly ‘H’ of ADHD, but more of an I for impulsivity. In working through meditation, I am finding I am much, much more H than I never realized, and that in sitting through this H using meditation I can dramatically impact how it influences my life.
I had a horrible meditation yesterday, and every inch of my being was kicking and screaming saying MOVE. I was just SO uncomfortable in my sitting position and it was painful to sit still, not because of any medical condition but just because I wanted to explode physically like I was about to fall over in a chair and had all that building energy. I did it anyway.
After the sitting, Jack Kornfield talks about what to do if you have that total and complete restless feeling in you. That feeling of “I can’t sit here for another second” using whatever excuse you need to get you out of the feeling. He said if it gets THAT hard, and your mind simply WON’T sit still… (drum roll)… too bad, sit through it, you aren’t going to die, nobody has ever died from restlessness. So much for my pass to escape.
As you may know, I’ve been trying and trying to meditate for months. I’m doing a pretty good job – 15 minutes a day in the morning and at night, with deep breathing exercises. However, these last few weeks have been particularly trying and I don’t mean to be flippant, but have felt like torture.
Literally I sit down and the cells in my body cry out “You have too much to do – get up and start doing it”! It feels like there are things pushing me from the inside to get up and get moving.
I can’t tell you how many times I get to around 10 or 11am and think to myself, ‘What am I supposed to be doing? I feel like I am running in circles!,’ only to realize that once again I have forgotten to take my ADHD meds. It should not be that hard — I mean I take them every day, yet still somehow I manage to get through 5 or 6 hours of my day before realizing the mistake.
And then if I have therapy, well, what do I tell my doctor? I can’t remember my moods yesterday, let alone a week ago. How am I supposed to know what affected my moods throughout the week?
Granted, I found tools that worked and helped me along the way, but the thing that stopped the addiction wasn’t AA, a patch, advice from friends and family, or a divorce. It was something inside me; a true exhaustion from the up and down of the addiction itself.
There are really no miracle cures for anything. There are tools that can help you overcome challenges in getting there, but the only thing that can truly make you stop something is yourself. And then by surrounding yourself with people and things that support that type of healthy vs. unhealthy behavior. I do think it’s different for each and every person.
I’m sure just reading that title incited strong reaction in most people. They either love the companies, or hate them. For some reason I think companies working to sell drugs to fix the brain have the worst reputation of all – and to this day I can not figure out why.
Let’s face it, we can find fault in anything. It is pretty easy to do, and it is usually our first line of defense when we fear something. I think probably all of our biggest fear is the dark side of the brain, and unfortunately until we are all enlightened, we will all have a dark side to varying degrees.
The discipline of Psychology has come up with some fairly simple rules to follow for fighting fair, and it amazes me how each and every day we ignore these rules and suffer again and again from their lessons.
The recent shooting in Arizona has brought up a lot of this, but I am reminded when I hear of bullying, the divorce rate, and the constant battle of the media and politics. While Psychology is far from perfect, it is an evolving discipline (as are we) and I would think we would take at least what we do know, and use it to our advantage.
Fighting fair is an art, and it needs to be taught in school and practiced throughout every relationship. Yet it takes a great deal of discipline, and it seems few have it. The amount of hurtful words we are constantly spewing out of our mouths, on an hourly basis, is creating a majorly toxic environment. Our kids are learning how to treat each other through the television, politicians, adults, and teachers – and what kinds of fighting are we doing every day?
I’m reading Eckardt Tolle’s “The Power of Now” and I am again reminded of just what a small amount of time I spend in the present moment. It is as if my feet are planted but my thoughts are spinning and tumbling from one connection to the next to the next without me even be aware. For those of you with ADHD, I am sure you understand what I am talking about.
I think this was developed as a defensive mechanism when I was a child. When I got scared, my brain detached and went into its own mode to create a safe haven in a place of chaos. It served me well as a child, as it kept me alive when I sensed danger. Unfortunately, as I got older, it was that same mechanism that would potentially kill me.